The Somervell County Commissioners voted unanimously (5-0) during a special meeting on Wednesday morning to accept a proposal that the Glen Rose Independent School District will hire two new full-time school resource officers (SROs) instead of hiring off-duty local deputies for the job.
But there are some negotiations to come before any changes will be made.
The SROs who are in place now at the Glen Rose Elementary School and the Intermediate School — one for each of those schools — are off-duty local deputies paid by the GRISD for their time on duty there. Those deputies are also employed — on a full-time basis — by the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office.
“We would be willing to pay for the additional officers. Right now we’re hiring off-duty officers,” GRISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan said during Wednesday’s meeting.
But the question of vehicles for the two new full-time SROs to be hired for those two campuses was not resolved. The commissioners decided that issue will be considered during the commissioners’ regular meeting, April 9. Rotan will be part of the discussion.
Rotan noted that he feels the current arrangement is “putting a strain” on the officers involved in the rotation because, essentially, they end up working seven days a week.
“I am excited the direction GRISD and the county (are) going for the schools,” Sheriff Alan West said in a statement to the Glen Rose Reporter. “With the concerns law enforcement, administrators, teachers, parents, and students have, we are uniting together to make our community safe for our children.”
Rotan said that the current method of SRO coverage will remain in place through the end of the current school year. The target date for having the two new deputies in place would be Aug. 1 of this year, when teachers start their staff development training for the 2018-2019 school year.
The Glen Rose School Board Trustees had voted (6-0) Monday night in their regular monthly meeting to give Rotan the authority to negotiate with the county on the SRO issue.
Rotan noted that the presence of the SROs offers “another layer of protection” that is essential in today’s world.
“In the current climate, I think student safety is our No. 1 focus,” Rotan said after the commissioners meeting. “I want our students and teachers to feel safe, to focus on learning — what they’re here for.”
The full-time SROs in place at Glen Rose High School and Glen Rose Junior High won’t be affected by the potential change.
Rotan said that starting in the fall, the GRISD will be implementing a new SRO station desk just inside the entrances of each of the four school campuses.
The SRO will scan in the driver’s license of each new visitor, and that — through a new software program yet to be purchased — will provide an instantaneous background check. The school trustees will have the option of choose from two different software programs that can perform that task, Rotan said.